The Link Between IVF And Low Libido
1st OF November 2012
IVF - in-vitro-fertilisation - has long been anecdotally linked to things getting stale or poor in the bedroom for couples trying to conceive. It's all just been a rumour - until now.
Researchers at an Indiana university have just found a definite link between the process of IVF and a lack of libido, sensual excitement or pleasure in intimacy.
It's not great news - but at least any woman experiencing this can be reassured that she's not alone, as dysfunction in bed is experienced by many undergoing the procedure.
The reasons? The good news is that they're primarily psychological. Nothing is going 'wrong' physically - the process of IVF is wreaking havoc predominantly in your mind.
The bad news is that psychological dysfunction in the bedroom can be much harder to fix.
Couples in the study, run by the University of Indiana, were the first to be subject to any scientific examination of how IVF affects romance and intimacy.
There were two main factors. One was that IVF affects the levels of hormones in women's blood, playing merry hell with libido, attraction and even your ability to orgasm.
The other was that the couples involved told the researchers they felt like "a science experiment", and that intimacy "had to be planned and timed" - a crucial part of a successful IVF cycle.
However, it takes all the romance out of intimacy, and the result is lacking, with many women on IVF reporting a difficulty to orgasm, vaginal tightness or dryness, and other symptoms related to insufficient arousal.
Intimacy done 'on the clock' doesn't activate the same brain areas as intimacy done for libido reasons, meaning that arousal is far harder to achieve.
So how can this be fixed? If you're part of a couple currently undergoing IVF, request that along with relationship counselling - which is often a given for couples at an IVF clinic - you also receive plenty of warning about the potential sexual side effects, and a referral to an intimacy therapist.
Luckily for couples in this predicament, just because intimacy 'has to' be done at certain times for medical reasons doesn't mean that the pleasure disappears forever. With good counselling and effort, the gruelling attempt to defeat infertility can accompany a happy, healthy sex life.
And the study recommends that seeking out other couples having the same problems, or just being aware of their existence, could help.
One doctor holding the study said: "There's just a dearth of knowledge on how infertility affects social behaviour. The focus is more likely to be on the social and support dimensions of the relationship, but sex is a big part of that. Just letting patients know they aren't alone in this would be helpful."
If your infertility clinic doesn't offer these services, campaign to have them covered. Infertility is a stressful and nerve-wracking experience, and relationships need to be preserved - intimacy included - to get through it together.
And talk to your partner - don't let things get worse. If it's going to be fixed, it needs to be done together.
Lady Friday xx
Taking the pillow talk out of the bedroom, every Friday...